Markus Oehlen

born in 1956 in Krefeld, Germany; lives in Munich

Biography

1971–1973 Apprenticeship as a technical draftsman

1976–1982 Studies at Kunstakademie (Arts Academy) Düsseldorf under Alfonso Hüppi

1977–1987 Drummer in various German punk and new wave bands as well as his own music projects

Since 1977 first exhibitions of paintings and sculptures, since 1982 at the galleries Max Hetzler (Stuttgart, Cologne, Berlin), Peter Pakesch (Vienna), Bärbel Grässlin (Frankfurt am Main), Hans Mayer (Düsseldorf) and Gerhardsen Gerner (Berlin/Oslo)

Since mid-1990s member of the band projects Jailhouse and Van Oehlen

Since 2002 Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Markus Oehlen’s first solo exhibition took place in 1977 at Konrad Fischer’s legendary art space in the Neubrückstraße in Düsseldorf. Other art shows followed quickly, often in the context of the »Neue Wilde« (New Wild) or the group surrounding his brother, Albert Oehlen, and Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner. Oehlen, at the time very in line with the attitude of the still young punk movement in Germany, kept his painting – just as the music of the time – purposely dark, coarse and skeletal. In most of his abstract compositions, there are primarily multiple, incongruent, partially radically divergent layers overlapping each other with sketch-like contours drawn with striking lines in the foreground. Over time, Oehlen began to experiment increasingly with figurative elements, however, their forms remain stubbornly just a hint. Later, graphic or media-technical borrowed items (such as painted picture grids, video lines or moires) often appeared, which Oehlen included with a rough but integrative gesture in his canvases. Also part of his repertoire are painted, sprightly deformed sculptures, frequently made of Styrofoam or an aluminum basis, that have continued to expand over the decades without losing their original punk inspiration.

...more/images

Author: Christian Höller

...less
Music

Music

Markus Oehlen met the budding German punk scene, which was part of the local Ratinger Hof context, as a student at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in 1977. He first played »Trommlung« at the short-lived group Deutschland Terzett, and then was the drummer with the groundbreaking Mittagspause. After two singles (1979), which are still viewed as milestones in the German post-punk scene, and the dissolution of Mittagspause, Oehlen pursued various music projects with changing cast. In addition to drums he also played guitar and keyboards with the Vielleichtors, happening into the sluggish New Wave grooves. His »brilliantly dilettante« tendency to multi-instrumentalism was also apparent in his participation in the all-star project LSDAP/AO and Flying Klassenfeind (1981/82), which specialized in cover versions of pop classics in the same way that the artist LP project Rache der Erinnerung (1984), supported by Oehlen, did. In 1985 he produced his first solo recorded single, Beer Is Enough which was followed by more solo releases at irregular intervals under the pseudonym Don Hobby (1998) or with the electronic composition Wanne 4 (2015). Oehlen recorded the LP Lousy Days Are Here to Stay (1987) as Kurt Striebe with Werner Büttner before heading into electronic-percussive free-form improvisation with his brother Albert in the bands Van Oehlen and Jailhouse (with Rüdiger Carl) in the 1990s.

In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

Markus Oehlen

One and One, 1984, with Markus Oehlen (voc., guit., b., perc. sax., synth.), 3:17 min

Film: Ute Kampmann

A production team in Hamburg (Ute Kampmann, Thomas Meins, Tim Renner) created the video magazine Für eine Handvoll D-Mark, with four music clips they produced in 1984. In the Hungarian moderated part by Markus Oehlen, one sees the cover of »One & One is One,« originally a big hit by the English band Medicine Head in 1973. The cover version, which is also included in the artist record project Die Rache der Erinnerung (1984), is impressive with its persistently elaborate solo principle. Oehlen plays all instruments himself which is alternately faded into the psychedelic hatching of the constantly changing color settings. As if taking the song title literally, the solitarily strumming and rumbling musician doubles and triples – and is, in the process, never quite »one« with himself, even though Oehlen’s outfit is in the same fabric pattern as the wallpaper-like background. Just as the instrumental tracks of the weird cover version seem to run asynchronously, the counterparts created with the video technology never quite line up. In short: a self-deconstructing, melting fantasy.

Author:

Christian Höller